Posted by: cullaloelnr | August 22, 2008

Walking in Mudfields (to the tune of Walking in Memphis)

I put on my walking boots, and
Drove to Cullaloe today.
The view of the car park gave me the Blues,
In the middle of the pouring rain!

Water and mud and puddles,
crowding all around me,
Yeah, I wanted a new spillway lining,
But I`m as blue as a butterfly can be.

Then I`m walking in Mudfields…
Walking with my feet slipping, sliding away.
Walking in Mudfields…
So is there anything else to say?

Saw the tracks disappearing,
Along the reserve path.
Followed them up to the screen at lochside,
Then I watched them start on past.
Now the heron he did not see me,
He just fixed his eye on fish.
But there`s a fine flock of coots.
Waiting for the brave.
Down on the loch today!

Then I`m walking in Mudfields…
Walking with my feet slipping, sliding away.
Walking in Mudfields…
So is there anything else to say?

We’ve got bees on the flowers!
We’ve got bird-song in the air!
And Grahame and Janie’d, be glad to see you…
If you’re willing to take care!

So, please, take care in our Mudfields!

Now, workers will be at the spillway,
Every day at this till they’re done.
And I’ll pop in occasionally,
Coz Grahame asked me if I would…

Do a bit of recording?
And I said I’d do my best.
But I’m thinking,
“Tell me, am I a miracle worker? What will I…
Spot in this mess?!”

Then I`m walking in Mudfields…
Walking with my feet slipping, sliding away.
Walking in Mudfields…
So is there anything else to say?

I’ll put on my walking boots, and I’ll
Head for the reserve.
But I’d suggest to the populace,
That they give the place the swerve.

Or you’ll be Walking in Mudfields!

Ok – I’ve had my fun now! 🙂

As you can tell from the above – even if you are struggling to fit the words into the song music – the situation at Cullaloe is looking a little muddy right now. Ok – I’ll rephrase – a LOT muddy right now! 😦

The contractors appeared on-site yesterday (Thursday 21 August 2008) to begin working on the new and improved lower spillway – and boy have they made an impression! Sadly we all knew that it would be virtually impossible for the reserve to remain unaffected while this work was being carried out but even Grahame and I were a little dismayed at what we found on arrival today.

The car park is getting to be a real concern with flooding problems after all the wet weather we have been “enjoying” recently, but the arrival of the necessary heavy machinery has brought the extra worry of mud on the entrance road. We would normally ask reserve visitors to exercise a certain degree of caution when driving down the slope to the car park in case they disturb unsuspecting wildlife, but we are reiterating that caution warning for your own safety this time. The mixture of water and dirt from the soft verges is turning into a truly awful paste on the road and traction is a bit of a distant memory if you are travelling at any great speed. Once you reach the car park, please navigate carefully around the hardcore deposited by the contractors. This is unsightly, but essential to the works being carried out.

It is only when you start walking along the pathway to the loch that the real problems begin to leap out at you. Grahame is quite concerned about how the butterfly transect results are going to fair following the obliteration of a couple of feet of grass verge on either side of the path by the to-ing and fro-ing of the mini-digger 😦 And as you crest the slope leading down to the spillway, the path peeters out after 20-or-so feet into what can only be described as a soup of vegetation and mud. Grahame and I strongly advise any visitors to consider turning back after they have checked out what is on the loch, because the terrain down the slope is virtually impassable at the moment.

I would just like to say at this point that I am not at all criticising the contractors for their contribution to the changed landscape at Cullaloe. In fact, to give credit where credit is due, they appear to be keeping a very tidy ship as far as their machinery and building materials are concerned. It is clear that they have tried as far as possible to keep within their own tracks along the paths to minimise damage and allow some hope of being able to take a walk to the screen. There is also evidence of them trying their best to counteract the effects of the torrential rain by packing some of the hardcore intended for the spillway into the mud soup at the bottom of the slope to ensure a more stable surface for their vehicles. These are measures that are greatly appreciated by those of us who volunteer on the reserve and are to be applauded.

Now as I’ve said, parts of the reserve are just not negotiable at the moment, but I will be braving the slippery slopes to take a few photographs of progress being made and plan to post these to the blog as soon as possible. The eagle-eyed of you will notice that I have posted the blog all by myself this time and that is because Grahame is taking a well-earned break in Cumbria to catch up on some spotting of his own. So I’ll just ask everyone for a bit of patience to let me work out what I need to do to load on photos! 😉

Ok – enough doom and gloom! It isn’t all bad news on the reserve! We are nearly at the end of August now and as I said in the last post we have opened the sluice-gate for the lowering of the loch. All the water gushed out… and the water fowl were flushed out of their cozy reeds and grasses to sit all exposed on the open water! 🙂 Who knew that there were so many coot and moorhen hidden in all the nooks and crannies?! And Grahame spotted a female Teal out on the water on Sunday, so the loch will soon be a very busy place with Widgeon also expected to return shortly! There were also a couple of swans sunning themselves on the bank during a very brief sunny spell!

I know I mentioned concern about the butterfly transect earlier, but we have already seen the Common Blue, Large White, Green-Veined White and a Red Admiral, so we know they are out and about and just waiting to be spotted! 🙂

One good outcome to the mess that’s been made, I guess, is the possibility of getting the Scottish Wildlife Trust Conservation Team, and our brilliant volunteers from Air Training Corps 859 (Dalgety Bay) Squadron back on board to help tidy things up again and recommence essential maintenance works in mid-September! You always have to focus on the positives! 😉

Being realistic, it is going to be a while before the reserve regains its air of peace and tranquillity, and for now Grahame and I are verging on suggesting people might like to consider alternative wildlife spotting locations. But, I know that sometimes it can be interesting to see change as it happens and monitor for yourself the effects of them, so the reserve will remain open throughout the spillway works. All we ask is that everyone takes safety precautions in terms of wearing sturdy food-wear, even if you plan on sticking to the paths, and staying well back from the edges of the lower spillway.

Thank you for your kind attention on these matters – and I’ll update you with gorey photos soon! 😉


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